DKMS celebrates 30 years: Milestone for blood cancer patients
DKMS will celebrate its 30th anniversary on May 28th, the annual World Blood Cancer Day (WBCD): 30 years in which we have fought against blood cancer and achieved a lot. Today, we are an international organization with a clear message: blood cancer knows no borders. It is this message that is behind our increasing commitment to ensure patients in India, South Africa, and other developing regions of the world also have access to life-saving stem cell transplants.
“With over 10.7 million donors available worldwide and over 92,000 second chances at life given, DKMS has made one of the biggest impacts in the lives of patients across the world,” saysElke Neujahr, Global CEO of DKMS. “To ensure the best chance of survival for our patients, we continue to expand our efforts, not only by enlarging and diversifying the global pool of donors, but by driving science and research.” In recent years, DKMS has grown into the world’s largest network of donor centers, with sites in seven countries on five continents. The latest addition is DKMS Africa, established in March 2021 and based in South Africa.
Our story began in 1991, when Peter Harf was fighting to save the life of his beloved wife, Mechtild. The only way Mechtild Harf could beat her leukemia was with a hematopoietic stem cell transplant – but Germany had only 3,000 registered potential stem cell donors at the time. In a desperate situation, Peter took things into his own hands, joining forces with Mechtild’s treating physician,Gerhard Ehninger, to found DKMS gGmbH in Tübingen.
“We made great strides in our initial efforts, increasing the size of the registry twenty-fold in the first year. Sadly though, we could not help Mechtild and she ultimately passed away. Before she did, she made me promise to continue the work we were doing, so that other families could be saved from the pain we’d felt and other patients could have a second chance at life,” says Peter Harf. “As I reflect on the accomplishments of the past three decades and think of all the lives that have been saved and families who have been kept together, I am happy in the realization that, if I am to be remembered for anything, it will be for DKMS.”
Helping where help is needed: Improving access to transplantation
Today, we are on a global mission and active in many areas including medicine and research. “Over the past thirty years, our experts have accumulated a wealth of knowledge in the field of stem cell donation and transplantation,” says Elke Neujahr. “Today, as a network of thirteen subsidiaries, we have grown to become an international and multifaceted organization, that is able to fight blood cancer and life-threatening blood disorders from many different angles. Together, we are consistently developing the scope of our activities to help patients.”
For example, we have launched special aid programs to give patients in poorer parts of the world access to stem cell transplants by offering financial support, free HLA typing, and support for treatment and care, among other things.
Virtual anniversary event
We would be honored to welcome you as virtual guest to our online jubilee event on:
May 28th 2021, CEST 7:30pm / EST 1:30pm. The show will be streamed live from Café Moscow Berlin: www.dkms.org/30years
Patients, donors, supporters will share their stories. We will also talk about how we can make life-saving stem cell transplantation available to even more patients around the world in the future.